My cell phone is CONSTANTLY telling me that I'm short on memory. When I back up to iTunes, it's clear that emails and texts are using up too much space. Deleting texts is typically pretty simple. However, I have close to 11,000 emails in my "all mail" folder in my phone. The only way I have found to get rid of these unnecessary messages is to go in to these folders in gmail and check EACH AND EVERY email that I don't want and TRASH. So, that's what I've been doing.
Now, picture with me how far back the dates go as I'm scrolling one by one through 11,000 emails. As I got closer to 2011, I began to get really nervous about names and messages that I'd see. Obviously, they were there. Thankfully, there wasn't even a hint of the sick feeling my stomach used to feel at the sight of these. I wasn't the least bit tempted to open, read, and get irritated, sad, whatever. Yay God!! Hallelujah!
But, I was scrolling over an email from a sweet friend and saw that the message line said "Trees of Righteousness." I was curious, so I opened it. The date on this email was September 26, 2011, and it was a forward of something written by Ann Graham Lotz...
That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
Isaiah 61:3, NKJV
"When I was growing up in the mountains of North Carolina, every Sunday afternoon, weather permitting, my parents, my siblings, and I would go hiking. Inevitably, our climbs would take us to the ridge where the trees were so enormous we could all hold hands and still not be able to encircle the trunks. When I asked my mother why the trees were so much larger on the ridge than anywhere else, she replied that it was because the winds were the strongest and the storms were the fiercest on the ridge. With nothing to shelter the trees from the full brunt of nature's wrath, they either broke and fell, or they became incredibly strong and resilient.
God plants you and me in our faith as tender saplings then grows us up into "trees of righteousness," using the elements of adversity to make us strong. And He leads us to endure, not just somehow, but triumphantly as we choose to praise Him, regardless of the storms swirling within us or the winds howling outside of us."
I'm struck by 2 things as I read this. First, how many times have I read or heard something and thought, "I need to send that to ________." I'm sure that I've had that feeling numerous times, and I'm positive I haven't followed through each and every time. This email came from a friend (thank you, Jenny) exactly one month after Scotty's confession. I'm guessing there were many times she didn't really know what to say to me. But, she read this message, thought of me and hit FORWARD. It was a simple gesture, but it meant the world. And, today it meant something to me again.
Secondly, just reading these paragraphs that Ann wrote, I can literally feel "the storms swirling within... and the winds howling outside." Our lives are full of those moments! And, in them, we are reminded how FRAGILE we are. But, we can choose to cooperate with God. And, those storms that threaten to tear us apart and rip us to pieces can be the VERY thing that God uses to build us up and make us STRONG.... trees of righteousness.
I'm thanking God right now that I'm currently NOT being hit by the full brunt of life's struggles. But, I'd be willing to bet that someone reading this IS. And, I'm reminded that it's TOUGH to be in the struggle of battle right in the middle of the holiday season. All of the world is happy, joyful, celebrating life, and you just want a minute of peace in the midst of turbulent pain. I know...!
Can I encourage you to hold on for dear life? Can I urge you to lean in to the Lord and ask Him to carry you each and every second? Can I suggest that you seek out someone who's been through a struggle of their own, open up in a real and honest way with them, and allow them to walk with you through this storm? I hope you will! Because, I can promise you that God WILL absolutely strengthen you. He will lovingly show you HIMSELF, but we HAVE to be looking. And,... it takes WORK to see when your world is spinning. But, if ever there was meaningful work, this is it! You can do it, and it will be so worth it.
Oh... and iPhone geniuses.... send me kind, gentle emails explaining to me why I'm ignorant when it comes to technology and how I can clean up my phone in an easier way.